One Japanese word to remember: Oishii!

One Japanese word to remember: Oishii!

Asian mothers…they are so mother.  They are always worrying about your well-being, especially if you are well fed.  I grew up in that kind of household in Japan.  What still echoes in my ear is these words, “have you eaten?”  My mom’s signature line.

Now I do that even though I am not a mother.  I am constantly asking like “are you hungry?” or “do you want to eat more?” Last night, I made seared ahi (nice reddish pink in the middle…perfect) and arugula, cilantro and kale salad with ponzu sauce. That fills my tummy and soul.  Pure deliciousness.

If you travel to Japan and happen to meet my mother, she probably would ask you “have you eaten?” and if you haven’t, she would cook for you.  Her dishes are all tasty, I guarantee you.

So, here is one word you need to memorize just in case you meet her there.  “Oishii!!” = Pure Deliciousness.

My kind of meditation: Nurturing my root

My kind of meditation:  Nurturing my root

Food takes time to prepare in general.  Any kind of food really but I have to say Japanese food is one of those foods that takes lots of time to prep.  If you want something quick and easy, you might want to be reconsider about becoming a Japanese cook.  However, Japanese food is the one if you enjoy process, experience and of course, eating Japanese food.

I heard that most people are born with 4 taste palettes, sweetness, saltiness, bitterness and sourness.  Asian people are usually born with one more, umami.  What is umami anyway?

“Umami is an appetitive taste and is described as a savory or meaty taste. It can be tasted in cheese and soy sauce, and while also found in many other fermented and aged foods, this taste is also present in tomatoes, grains, and beans.  A loanword from Japanese meaning “good flavor” or “good taste”,[46] umami (旨味?) is considered fundamental to many Eastern cuisines and was first described in 1908, although it was only recently recognized in the West as a basic taste. Some umami taste buds respond specifically to glutamate in the same way that “sweet” ones respond to sugar. Glutamate binds to a variant of G protein coupled glutamate receptors. (source-Wikipedia)”

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This is “sumashi-jiru” (clear soup).  Today, I made this soup with snow peas, lotus roots and scallops.  This looks quite simple but this requires time, dedication, and love.  This soup is packed with umami.  I did not have to add gobs of condiments, I only added tiny bit of salt and just a splash of shoyu (soy sauce).  It took about 90 minutes total to prepare this soup.

First, you simmer 3′ x 3′ kelp piece for 1 hour, then add handful shaved dried bonito (you can buy shaved bonito flakes at grocery stores, but I shave them myself) and bring to boil, leave it about 1 minute.  Then you filter the stock to make it super clear, golden color tasty dashi.  Then you put separately prepared snow peas and lotus root in to a bowl and pour this deliciousness over them.  THIS soup is my main course for lunch today.  Shaving bonito takes time, cooking dashi takes time but these “times” are my weekend rituals. Makes me feel proud and I am thankful that my mom taught me Japanese traditional way of cooking.

I look forward to every weekend because of this.  This is my way of meditating through preparing meals, appreciating meals and being gracious for my Japanese roots.  Sunday is always a great day.

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I will tell you all about it: Uni Ikura Donburi

I will tell you all about it:  Uni Ikura Donburi

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How does this look like to you?  Gross? Weird?  To me, this looks just gorgeous.

If you let Japanese mom or grandma cook, you’d be surprised how much they do NOT waste ingredients.  For example, let’s talk about chicken.  They cook thigh, breast, wings, inner-fillet, liver, heart, tale, gizzard, feet, (we eat some parts raw…I know.  But they are delicious!), and bones and neck for soup stock.  Fish, same thing.  They will use everything even fish roes.

So, in this photo, red pearl-ish looking thing is Ikura, salmon roes.  Yellow slimy looking thing is Uni, sea urchin.  You put these 2 things on a bed of rice, Donburi, then add little amount of Shoyu (good quality soy sauce, I recommend Ohsawa Brand.  You can buy it natural food stores or online http://shop.goldminenaturalfoods.com/Nama-Shoyu/products/58/), you would feel like you are in heaven.

I don’t believe many sushi restaurants have this dish on the menu in the U.S. but if you order by saying “hey, I’d like to order Uni Ikura Donburi” in Japanese, you would impress the hell out of sushi chef.  I guarantee it.